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How to dye your baby's stained clothes

You’ve washed. You’ve scrubbed. You’ve Tide Pen’d and Shout-ed it out and prayed to the onesie gods…but your baby’s best outfit is still stained.

That’s the thing about babies and toddlers…they’re MESSY! And when you’ve invested in really quality (and cute) clothes for them, the inevitable stains can be legit heartbreaking.

But don't worry - stains do not mean your sweet bb’s clothes are ruined for good! 

With just a few simple steps, you can DYE those stained clothes, make stains undetectable, and have them looking good as new in no time. Keep reading for the details.

1. Before you start

Read the label. Only natural fibers–cotton, linen, rayon, bamboo, hemp–can be dyed. Plastic fibers like polyester, microfiber, acetate, and acrylic won’t take dye, unfortunately.

Prep your fabric.

You'll want to make sure the item you’re about to dye is clean and free of any oils or dirt that could inhibit the dye from taking evenly, so give it a good wash in cool water (no fabric softener!) to start.

If you’ve used a stain remover, give it an extra rinse cycle to remove any residual chemicals that might affect the fabric’s ability to absorb color evenly.

stack of folded, multi-color fabrics

Choose your color.

The cardinal rule of dyeing fabric is that you can go darker than your original item, but not lighter–and this goes for the stain, too. You’ll want to choose a dye that is at least one shade darker than the stain itself. You’ll also want to consider whether the item has any graphics or embroidered details. Embroidery thread, even on natural fibers, can often still be synthetic, so you may want to choose a color that will compliment those details in case the thread doesn’t take the dye the same way as the rest of the garment.

2. What you'll need

While you can dye clothes with natural plant dyes, I don’t recommend doing this to cover stains since natural/homemade dyes are very subtle and not always color-fast (meaning they fade over time.)

I do recommend the widely available RIT dyes, or fiber-reactive dyes.

Fiber-what, you say? The problem with RIT dyes is that they require hot water, and if you’re dyeing an item that could shrink in hot water (I’m lookin’ at you, linen) you’ll want to choose a fiber-reactive dye that can be used in room temp water. Fiber reactive dyes are non-toxic and don’t contain heavy metals. You may need to order them online, but they’re widely available.

photo of turquoise procion mx dye
rolls of pastel linen fabric
rolls of pastel linen fabric

3. The Process

There are a few methods of dyeing an outfit, but regardless of which you choose, you’ll need to thoroughly wet and wring out your garment before starting. And always, always follow the instructions on your dye package to a t!

TOP-LOADING WASHING MACHINE

If you’ve still got a top-loader, you’re in luck! This is the easiest and least messy way to dye. Follow the instructions on your dye container, kick back, and let ‘er rip! Just make sure you run an empty load with bleach afterwards, or you will be really really REALLY sorry next time you wash a load of laundry!

STOVE TOP

When dyeing one or two tiny pieces with conventional (not fiber-reactive) dye, you can use a large pot and do it on the stove top.

BIG OL' PLASTIC CONTAINER

I love this method because you can do a lot of items all at once. Choose as big a plastic storage bin or bucket as you can find (or already have.) Just double check that it doesn’t have any cracks! You may want to fill it with water first just to be sure. You’ll want to do this outdoors, or else set up a plastic tarp underneath the dye bath to protect your floors. And make sure that you are capable of lifting the container once it’s full of water. Ask me how I know.

5. Tips & Tricks

If you want an even color distribution, the secret is agitation. Stir your dye bath thoroughly once you’ve added the dye packet(s) to be sure it’s completely dissolved, and then continue to stir throughout the dyeing process.

UNLESS…

You want a more variegated, organic look…in which case don’t stir at all! You can just chuck that outfit in the dye bath and let it sit for the amount of time specified on the dye package.

6. After you're done

Once you’re finished, give that outfit one more wash cycle by itself to rinse out any dye that hasn’t taken. I also recommend keeping this item with like colors for the next few washes, just in case.

If you’ve spilled any dye on the floor or countertops, clean them up with water and bleach.Unless your dye packet says otherwise, you can pour the un-used dye bath down the drain. It’s not super awesome for the environment, but it’s also not dangerous for your pipes, and as long as you don’t do this frequently you don’t have to feel guilty about it. 

Aaaaaaand…CONGRATS! You’ve now rescued your child’s stained clothing from obscurity! And who knows, you may just like the new color better than the original.

Check out this awesome dye job a customer did on her Beya Made romper--how adorable did this come out???

BEFORE:

AFTER:

Because Beya Made clothes are made from natural fibers, you can always use this method on our clothes if they get stained. And when you’re ready to size up? Shop the collection HERE.

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